During a question-and-answer session with reporters outside the White House on Wednesday, President Trump was asked why he won’t order the FBI to investigate the sexual assault allegation made by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
The president’s rationale made no sense.
“Well, it would seem that the FBI really doesn’t do that,” Trump said. “They’ve investigated [Kavanaugh via background checks] about six times before.”
But as a reporter pointed out to Trump, the bureau would investigate if the president asked them to. There’s direct precedent for this. In 1991, when Anita Hill made sexual harassment allegations against then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, President Bush directed the FBI “to conduct a full, thorough and expeditious investigation.”
Fact is, the FBI CAN investigate Ford’s allegation, IF so ordered by President Trump, as President Bush ordered the FBI to investigate Anita Hill’s allegation in 1991. In that case, as statement below shows, the WH then reviewed the report & concluded claim was “unfounded”. pic.twitter.com/EwB69qoyRB
— Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) September 19, 2018
“They would do it if you asked them to — would you consider doing it?” the reporter said to Trump.
The president immediately changed his tune, ignoring the question and instead punting the matter to Republican senators.
“Well, I would let the senators take their course,” Trump said. “Let the senators do it. They’re doing a very good job.”
REPORTER: Why don't you have the FBI investigate Blasey Ford's sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh?
TRUMP: They don't really do that.
REPORTER: The FBI would if you asked them to!
TRUMP: Well, the senators should do it. pic.twitter.com/004uK8dsKX
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 19, 2018
Trump went on to say that the allegation “is hurting someone’s life very badly.” But he was referring to Kavanaugh, not Ford, who has been besieged with death threats and targeted harassment since she went public with her story about Kavanaugh allegedly assaulting her at a high school party in the early 1980s.
“It’s very unfair I think to — as you know, Justice [sic] Kavanaugh has been treated very, very tough,” Trump said. “And his family — I think it’s a very unfair thing, what’s going on. So, we’ll see.”
Trump’s comment about how “the FBI really doesn’t do” investigations like the one Ford has asked for into Kavanaugh’s alleged assault echoes what he said on Tuesday, when he told reporters that “I don’t think the FBI should be involved because they don’t want to be involved.” Bloomberg reported Trump made those comments without actually consulting with the bureau.
Bloomberg News: The FBI did not tell Trump or anyone else at the White House that the bureau doesn’t want to be involved in an investigation of allegations against Kavanaugh, according to a person familiar with the matter.
— Chris Strohm (@cstrohm) September 19, 2018
While Trump tries to shift responsibility onto Republican senators on the Judiciary Commitee, those same lawmakers say they don’t have enough information to vet Blasey Ford’s accusations. During a CNN interview on Wednesday, Judiciary Committee member Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) said he doesn’t have enough information to make key decisions because “everything I know about this I’ve read in the media or seen in the media.”
Kennedy then proceeded to mansplain sexual assault to CNN’s Poppy Harlow, repeatedly interrupting her to insist Republican senators don’t have enough evidence to take Ford’s accusation seriously.
.@SenJohnKennedy mansplains sexual assault to CNN's @PoppyHarlowCNN, repeatedly interrupting her to insist there isn't enough evidence to take Dr Christine Blasey Ford's accusation against Brett Kavanaugh seriously.
Kennedy admonishes Harlow that she's "better than this." pic.twitter.com/flDHZLJT6t
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 19, 2018
Meanwhile, Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) wants to exclude the only alleged eyewitness of Kavanaugh’s assault, Mark Judge, from participating in a public hearing currently scheduled for Monday. Judge, who has provided shifting statements about what he remembers about the party where Ford was allegedly assaulted, has indicated he doesn’t want to testify under oath on behalf of his friend.
Ford has indicated she would be reluctant to participate in any hearing until the FBI investigates her accusation against Kavanaugh. In a letter sent to Grassley on Tuesday, Ford’s attorneys claimed Grassley planned to have Ford sit at the same table as Kavanaugh, her alleged sexual abuser. Grassley insists the hearing won’t be rescheduled if Ford refuses to participate, a sentiment echoed by other Republicans in the senate.
After learning of the allegation, Chairman @ChuckGrassley took immediate action to ensure both Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh have the opportunity to be heard, in public or private. Republicans extended a hand in good faith. If we don’t hear from both sides on Monday, let’s vote.
— Senator Bob Corker (@SenBobCorker) September 19, 2018
Another Republican member of the Judiciary Committee, Sen. Lindsey Graham (SC), baselessly suggested on Thursday that Ford’s allegation is part of a Democratic conspiracy to delay Kavanaugh’s confirmation until after the midterm elections.
It is imperative the Judiciary committee move forward on the Kavanaugh nomination and a committee vote be taken ASAP.
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) September 19, 2018
Graham’s insistence that the Senate move forward as quickly as possible to confirm Kavanaugh before November’s elections is ironic, given that in 2016, Republicans blocked President Obama’s nominee to replace Antonin Scalia, Merrick Garland, on the basis that the nomination — made in March of that year, nearly eight months before November’s election — was made too close to November.